A MUSEUM has acquired a beautifully decorated gypsy caravan thanks to the generosity of the family of the man who restored it.

The caravan has been donated to Worcestershire County Museum at Hartlebury Castle by the Birch family of Bidford-on-Avon and has been lovingly restored by Bill Birch over a number of years. Mr Birch recently died and in his memory his family were seeking a permanent home for the caravan, known as a "Burton" wagon. The museum already has a basic Burton caravan in its collection but the new one is much bigger, has two sets of windows and it was used by a travelling showman's family and so is highly decorative.

Steve Smith, museum technician, and his team of workshop volunteers, collected the new Burton in November and it is now on show in the Museum's 'Travel & Transport' gallery where it is proving very popular with visitors.

Rachel Robinson, Hartlebury property manager for Worcestershire County Council said: "We were very excited about being asked to take on the caravan, it adds another element to our already varied collection. It obviously meant a lot to the family and had been kept in superb condition."

The County Museum holds one of the most varied collections of Gypsy caravans on display anywhere in the country. The current display shows nine Gypsy caravans, or 'vardos' as they are also known, including designs such as the Bow Top, the Square Bow, the Open Lot and the Ledge. Also on display is the 'Gypsy Queen' caravan, made by Dunton and Son of Reading, which is the most elaborately decorated caravan at the museum.